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The ocean’s biggest garbage pile is full of floating life

By Annie Roth Photo: Ben Lecomte

Researchers found that small sea creatures exist in equal number with pieces of plastic in parts of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which could have implications for cleaning up ocean pollution.


Ocean animals face a mass extinction from climate change

By Sarah Kaplan Photo: Caleb Jones/AP

Warming waters are cooking creatures in their own habitats. Many species are slowly suffocating as oxygen leaches out of the seas. Even populations that have managed to withstand the ravages of overfishing, pollution and habitat loss are struggling to survive amid accelerating climate change.


Warming ocean leaves no safe havens for coral reefs

By Bob Berwyn Photo: Photo by Alexis Rosenfeld/Getty Images

New research finds coral refugia, where reefs are protected from global warming by cool local currents, are disappearing faster than expected.


The Gulf Stream is slowing to a ‘tipping point’ and could disappear

By Brandon Specktor Image: NASA Earth Observatory

The current could slow down to a point of no return, altering the climate on both sides of the Atlantic.


Q: If fossil fuel use continues at this pace, what are the consequences to the oceans?

A: “The world’s oceans and cryosphere have been taking the heat for climate change for decades,” said Ko Barrett, vice chair of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which produced the report on climate change’s impact on the oceans and cryosphere. “The consequences for nature and humanity are sweeping and severe.” Just how severe the impacts will become—whether sea level rise stops at 1 to 2 feet by 2100 or continues to rise as high as 3.5 feet; whether the planet sees 20 times more marine heat waves or 50 times more—depends on how, and how quickly, humanity responds to the crisis, the report found. More at InsideClimate News


Q: Why does it matter if the oceans are warming?

A: Warming seas hurt marine life, create stronger storms, and drive sea levels higher. As seas heat up from climate change, water expands and rises, causing coastal flooding and ice shelves to disintegrate. More at National Geographic


Q: What will happen to US coastal areas as sea levels rise from 5-25 feet?

A: This exceedingly interesting (and interactive) set of maps published in 2016 don’t look good for New Orleans, Miami, Galveston, and Atlantic City which are feeling the effects already now. And, the rest of us aren’t exempt either! More at the New York Times